Artist Statement for the Handmade Books

Personal Scriptorium Book 4

Donna Branch
Artist Statement for Hand Made Books

My mother was one of 19 children, fourteen were girls, and most of the girls were accomplished quilters, as was their mother and grandmother. I am descended from 3 generations of Southern women who made beautiful handmade quilts, in order to keep warm at night and show love for their family members. Early in my life, sewing became a very personal way that someone showed that they cared—an act of love.

Memories of family gatherings are filled with my grandmother, mother and her many sisters gathered around a quilting frame, suspended from the ceiling, working with small needles in order to finish a cherished quilt.

While sitting in hospitals and doctor’s offices while my mother endured radiation and chemotherapy at 90 years of age, I began to think about my rich family experiences. I began to explore ways to combine the medium of glass with my family’s tradition of quilting and needlework.

Most of the books that I create are blank on the inside. Long before I start to create a book, my mental journey begins. For the viewer, a sensual written or mental journey starts, when the book is touched, the cover opened, and the sound of the paper is heard as each page is turned. I prefer the mental ones. Maker’s marks are intentionally left as evidence that each portion of the book was touched by my hand, just like quilt stitches of my ancestors.

The book covers are created using traditional glass casting, fusing, and carving techniques. Texture is imparted by use of inchiso & battuto, carving techniques achieved by use of a lathe and a diamond wheel. Battuto gives an unexpected visual and tactile characteristic to the glass.

Some book covers and or end papers are hand embroidered and or hand quilted. Papers in the books are handmade or repurposed from old dictionaries, maps, or textbooks. The binding of my books is hand sewn with Irish waxed linen using a Fourth Century Ethiopian Coptic stitch with Coptic endbands. This binding is used because it is strong, connects me with the past, and will leave evidence that I created. Closures are made of antler, sea urchin, or other natural materials.

On walks, often I find arrowheads, animal skulls, bones, feathers and fossils and have collected these since I can remember. I use them in my work as a reminder that life is transitory and we must all leave traces that we were here.

©2012 Donna Branch. All Rights Reserved.

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